Antique Japanese Sword Katana Attributed to Masa-Aki with NTHK Kanteisho Certificate
This blade is attributed to the work of Jyokeshi Masa-Aki(城慶子正明) according to NTHK-NPO that appraised this blade. The certificate mentioned it was approximately forged during the Keio era(1865-1868: Bakumatsu era) in Edo. Masa-Aki was active in sword-forging during the Kaei-early-Meiji era(1848-1870).
Masa-Aki was born in Tsuyama city in Okayama prefecture in the 11th year of the Bunka era(1814). His real name was Takemura Tsunejiro(竹村恒次郎). It was often the case that a swordsmith’s maker’s name and his birth name were completely different.
Masa-Aki moved to Edo city to become an apprentice of Hosokawa Masayoshi(細川正義), a renowned swordsmith at the end of the Edo period. Hosokawa Masayoshi had learned sword-forging techniques under the master, Suishinshi Masahide(水心子正秀), one of the most skilled swordsmiths in Samurai history. Masayoshi(Masa-Aki’s master) was extremely a skilled swordsmith and was good at forging blades with Choji Midare Hamon, which is the characteristic of Bizen sword-forging style(BIZEN DEN). Masa-Aki also mastered this excellent sword-forging technique from his master. Choji Midare Hamon is an Irregular wavy tempering line, and you can see it in this blade as well.
Hosokawa Masayoshi served the Matsudaira clan in the Sakushu Tsuyama domain(today’s Okayama prefecture) while working in Edo city. And Masa-Aki took over his master’s position later in his career and served the clan, although he mainly lived in Edo city.
The Background History
Japan enjoyed a relatively peaceful time from the early Edo period to the mid-Edo period(the 1600s-1760s) because of the stable economy and the powerful government run by Tokugawa Shogun. Samurai didn’t have many opportunities to utilize his Katana sword in public or on battlefields during this time. Thus, they carried their swords more as a symbol of their social status. The demand for weapons decreased accordingly compared to the previous Warring state period called Sengoku Jidai. (1467-1600)
However, toward the end of the Edo period(1764-1876), the Japanese sword’s role changed dramatically. With the poverty spreading in Japan, there were so many riots initiated by the civilians. Japanese sword started to play an essential role in maintaining public safety.
Pressure from foreign countries to open Japanese borders also forced Samurai to order strong-looking swords to survive this tumultuous time. We believe many swordsmiths, including Masa-Aki, made great efforts to forged high-quality, practical blades for their masters to prepare for battles. This blade has a strong looking and must have been practical to use in that demanding time.
There was a civil war between Tokugawa’s shogunate government and the new Meiji imperical government at the end of the Edo period. That means the original owner of this Katana might have seen the moment when Samurai’s life changed forever. After this battle, Tokugawa shogunate was ousted and the imperial government gained the control.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)： 73.7 cm( 29.0 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 1.35 cm (0.53 inches)
The crystalline structure which forms along the cutting edge of a blade as a result of the hardening process
visible steel surface pattern created by folding and hammering during forging process
Nakago：Nakago is the tang of the Japanese sword.
Japanese swordsmiths left the black rust on the tang because it prevents red rust while the tang is in its handle. And the discoloration of the tang was created over time, and it is a great indicator for a Japanese sword specialist to estimate when the sword was forged.
Koshirae: Koshirae is the mounting of the Japanese sword. There are several parts that consist of Koshirae such as Saya(Scabbard), Tsuka( Handle), Tsuba(Handguard).
Fuchi-Kashira：A pair of matching sword fittings that cover the upper and bottom parts of its sword hilt.
The house and its surroundings are designed for this Fuchi Kashira. The ground is hit by the Nanako-Ji Tagane (魚子地鏨, chisel used for this technique). It makes delicate fish egg-shaped protrusions on the entire surface of the Fuchi Kashira and shows us the maker’s expert skill. An old type house is depicted for the Kashira part, and under the eaves is expressed at the Fuchi part. Some parts are colored with golden metal.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
Seeing from the gaps of the Tsukamiki thread, this Menuki’s motif might be a kind of animal. It is possibly the deer. The gold-colored metal is applied to the deer’s eyes.
You would see that there are golden spot patterns on the body surface of these deers. The deer was thought a vehicle of the gods and regarded as a sacred animal. It is said that the deer pattern represents longevity and has been designed in paintings since ancient times. The combination of deers and autumn plants (for example, maple leaves) is often seen.
Tsuba and Habaki：Tsuba is the handguard for the Japanese Sword and Habaki is the equipment to make the blade not touch its scabbard inside. It prevents the blade from getting rusty and chipped.
This is an antique Tsuba made from iron. Thin lines are engraved on the surface. Several frames are arranged, and different motifs are depicted in each frame. On the front side, you would find the Ume (梅, Japanese apricot blossom), the Take (竹, bamboo), and the Nami (波, wave) patterns.
Japanese apricot blossoms begin to bloom in winter that snow still covers its tree so that people thought this flower tells the arrival of spring. As it comes out in the cold season, it symbolizes the power of perseverance and vitality.
Bamboos grow neatly towards the sky, and it has remarkable vitality so that this motif represents nobility and strength. Besides, the bamboo breaks straight, but its content is hollow; people thought it shows innocence. According to a Chinese legend, Houhou (鳳凰, Fenghuang) eats bamboo fruits; therefore, bamboo has been considered a sacred plant. Also, as it keeps its green color even in cold winter, people thought the bamboo pattern shows eternity and longevity.
As waves’ movements continue endlessly, the wave pattern represents eternity, immortality, longevity, birth, etcetera. Also, since tides repeatedly change the shape and terrain of rocks, some people hoped for a strong will by using this motif. People used this pattern wishing for an indomitable spirit to rechallenge time and time without giving up.
On the backside, the landscape and a kind of flower motifs are designed. By seeing this plant’s leaf shape, this flower might be a chrysanthemum. A long time ago, the chrysanthemum was used as a medicine for obtaining a long life, and it was brought to Japan from the Continent with this thought in the Nara period (648-781). Chrysanthemum is one of the flowers which symbolizes fall, and people appreciate it very much since ancient times. As its petals form radially, the chrysanthemum has been likened to the sun. That is why this flower pattern is treated as the symbol of perpetual youth and longevity or good health.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NTHK Kanteisho Certificate for the blade
NTHK, also known as NPO Nihon Touken Hozon Kai, is the oldest organization for sword authentication of Japanese swords in modern times. It was established in 1889 during the post-Samurai era. They authenticated the blade on Jan 15th in the 29th year of Heisei (2017). The purchaser will receive this original certificate as well. We can also translate what is written into English and make a PDF file for your record if you request.
Registration Number : Ehime 52984
The Board of Education in Ehime prefecture issued a registration paper for this sword . It is called Jyu Token Rui Torokusho(銃刀剣類登録証). Bunkacho(The Agency for Cultural Affairs) acknowledges a Japanese sword with this paper as a work of art.
The sword needs to be traditionally hand-forged and made of Tamahagane carbon steel to be registered in the system. With this paper, its owner in Japan can legally own an authentic Japanese sword. Based on this registration number, we will apply for its export permit.
This paper will need to be returned to the board of education when the sword is being shipped abroad, but you can receive a copy of it. An English translation of this registration paper is available on request.
Samurai Museum is located in Tokyo, Japan, exhibiting antique artifacts related to the Samurai history. Samurai Museum Shop is the place for those who are interested in Japanese culture and craftsmanship. We deal with antique Samurai swords/armor, traditional crafts made in Japan and so on.
【Japanese Sword& Export Process】
The Japanese swords we deal with are hand-forged edged swords made in Japan. It was made from the traditional carbon steel called TAMAHAGANE(玉鋼). Samurai Museum is familiar with the proper legal procedure for an antique/ authentic Japanese sword to be exported from Japan. We have sent more than 350 Japanese swords to amazing owners who appreciate its historical value.
Each Japanese sword is registered under the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Board of Education in Japan.They issue a registration paper for each Japanese sword for its owner in Japan to legally possess it. The Japanese sword with its registration paper means it was traditionally hand-forged in Japan.
To legally export the sword from Japan to other countries, we will have to apply for its permit to the Agency for Cultural Affairs(Bunkacho) and return the original registration paper to the Board of Education. It normally takes around 2-4 weeks to receive this permit after submitting required documents. And we would like you to expect at least 1-1.5 months for your order to arrive at your given address after you ordered. For more detailed info, please click here.
It is allowed for residents in Japan to own authentic Japanese swords without a special license as long as they come with registration papers. Please feel free to contact us if you are a resident of Japan, whether temporarily or permanently. We will also assist you when you leave Japan and need to obtain the export permit.
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* If the amount is above 1 million JPY, Stripe or wire transfer will be the only options for payment.
We have shipped authentic Japanese swords to the USA, Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany , France Hong Kong and Australia. If you don’t live in these countries and like to order, please contact us first before making a purchase. We offer Free International Shipping as long as we can send antique Japanese swords by either EMS or FedEx(Canada).
We normally ship by EMS(Express Mail Service) provided by Japan Post. When we receive an order from the Canada we will use FedEx instead as EMS temporarily stops shipping from Japan to those countries due to COVID-19.
We will send you a tracking number for your order as soon as we hand it to the post office/FedEx. We will put 100 % insurance on the shipping document without any extra charge. Based on the total amount, there might be a duty tax or other fee for you to pay, depending on the countries. We use package cushioning to protect the item and put it in a PVC pipe, which is one of the most secure packages because of its durability.
It will normally takes 5-14 days for the item to arrive at your given address after we dispatch it. Time of delivery is estimated as accurately as possible by the carrier but does not take into account any delays beyond our control such as by inclement weather, post office holiday seasons.
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【How to make sure the condition】
Please keep in mind that what you are going to purchase is an antique item. We uploaded high resolution photos for you to check its condition thoroughly. If you like to see more photos with different angles, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to send them to you so that you can make informed decision. It is essential for us to know that you are happy with your choice of a sword. and we are prepared to use the best of our ability to serve you.
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【The Art of Nihonto(Japanese Sword)】
Samurai’s history is a profound, eloquent legacy of ancient Japanese warriors in which millions of people worldwide are being fascinated. If you like to find out the art of Nihonto, please click here.
【A Guide to Japanese Sword Maintenance】
After acquiring an genuine Japanese sword, it is also important to know how to take good care of it. Here is the special video for you. Mr. Paul Martin, Japanese sword expert, shows you how to give proper maintenance to your sword. By mastering how to clean the Japanese sword, its aesthetic beauty will last forever.
When you purchase a Japanese sword from us, you can get a Free Japanese sword maintenance kit. It comes with four tools(Choji Oil, Uchiko Powder, Peg remover, Oil Applicator). By watching the video instruction above , you can enjoy learning how to maintain your Japanese sword while appreciating it.
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